Members of the 2023 Texas Longhorns recruiting class began arriving on the Forty Acres on Thursday — quarterback Arch Manning and running back Cedric Baxter Jr. are among the 15 early enrollees for the Longhorns.
So of the 25 current members of the 2023 class, a full 60 percent will get a head start on their careers at Texas by participating in winter conditioning and spring practice before the other 10 signees enroll in June.
Here’s what the expectations look like for each player.
New Orleans (La.) Isidore Newman quarterback Arch Manning
After handling one of the most high-profile recruitments in the modern era with exceptional maturity, Manning turned in an impressive senior season under the spotlight, maintaining his position as the nation’s No. 1 prospect in the 247Sports Composite rankings.
With the strong performance by rising redshirt sophomore quarterback Quinn Ewers in the Alamo Bowl, the likelihood of Manning redshirting in 2023 increased once again after declining while Ewers struggled during the regular season. But Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian made it clear that there will be an open competition for the starting quarterback job during the offseason and Manning will elevate the level of that competition even if he doesn’t ultimately win it.
Orlando (Fla.) Edgwater running back Cedric Baxter Jr.
After participating in the Under Armour All-America game, Baxter arrives on the Forty Acres as the consensus No. 1 running back in the 2023 class. An upright, physical runner, Baxter will bring a different dimension to the Texas running game than the other running backs currently on campus and should challenge rising redshirt sophomore Jonathon Brooks for the starting job. Because of Baxter’s unique skill set, he’s a virtual lock to receive carries as a true freshman.
DeSoto wide receiver Johntay Cook
Cook drew praise in Orlando for his explosiveness, hands, and route-running ability. Considering the level of competition in the all-star game and the competition that Cook faced while winning a 6A state title, he’s expected to contribute as a true freshman and eventually emerge as an impact player for the Longhorns.
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco wide receiver DeAndre Moore Jr.
A late addition during the early signing period, Moore is a capable deep threat who is also dangerous after the catch in the screen game. If Jordan Whittington opts to return for a fifth season at Texas as currently expected, Moore has a difficult path towards significant playing time in the slot this season, but should provide valuable depth to a position group that severely lacked it in 2022.
Harker Heights offensive tackle Jaydon Chatman
One of the more athletic members of the offensive line class, as well as the highest rated, the major question with Chatman is whether he has the height at 6’4 to play tackle. If he can stick outside, he has a chance to make the two-deep depth chart at either tackle position.
Mansfield Timberview interior offensive lineman Andre Cojoe
At 6’6, 363 pounds, Cojoe is a massive lineman who was named District MVP as a senior, but he’s a developmental prospect who will need to redshirt while reshaping his body and seeking to maximize his athleticism.
Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips offensive lineman Payton Kirkland
Another massive human being listed at 6’6 and 370 pounds, Kirkland also needs to redistribute his weight and improve his pass blocking before he’s ready to contribute.
Frisco Wakeland interior offensive lineman Connor Stroh
The 6’7, 355-pounder is reminiscent of the huge offensive linemen that Mike Leach used to recruit at Texas Tech to hold up as pass blockers despite playing with wide splits — not exceptionally athletic, but tough to get around because of their pure size. Like the other offensive linemen in the class, Stroth is a developmental prospect who won’t be asked to contribute early.
Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic defensive tackle Sydir Mitchell
Texas will be down to one massive body on the interior defensive line following the departure of Keondre Coburn, so Mitchell fills a need for the Longhorns at 6’6 and 352 pounds, but whether he’s capable of contributing as a true freshman will come down to whether he can maintain leverage to hold the point of attack without relying purely on his mass.
Austin Westlake edge Colton Vasek
Unlike former high school teammate Ethan Burke, Vasek is enrolling early, a beneficial development for the strength gains that he needs to make at 6’5 and 230 pounds. Vasek is athletic enough and physical enough to contribute as a true freshman, but simply making the two-deep depth chart as a true freshman, as Burke did in 2022, would qualify Vasek’s first season on the Forty Acres as a success.
Denton Ryan linebacker Anthony Hill Jr.
With a rare combination of size, speed, and physical toughness, Hill is the nation’s top linebacker and a strong candidate to replace DeMarvion Overshown. The expectations are high for Hill, but he has the mental and physical makeup to play at a high level as a true freshman.
Teague linebacker Derion Gullette
Gullette could develop into an edge player at some point in his career, but he’s expected to start out at inside linebacker as he rehabilitates from a torn ACL that kept him from playing as a senior. Continuing his rehabilitation at Texas will be a positive for Gullette, but the reps lost through the duration of the injury mean he’s likely to redshirt this season.
Kahuku (Hawaii) linebacker Liona Lefau
Other than Hill, Lefua is the most likely linebacker to contribute in 2023 thanks to his ability to play sideline to sideline, fill against the run, and take effective coverage drops. Lefau is capable of playing either inside linebacker position and should factor into the rotation as a true freshman.
Wake Forest transfer cornerback Gavin Holmes
After spending two seasons with the Demon Deacons, Holmes will compete to replace D’Shawn Jamison at the boundary corner position. An athletic player with a knack for breaking up passes, Holmes must prove that he’s physical enough as a tackler to handle the starting role.
South Oak Cliff cornerback Malik Muhammad
Known as a pure cover corner, Muhammad drew praise for his week of practice prior to the Under Armour game and profiles as an early contributor, especially on special teams. The path to playing time is more clear at the field position with rising senior Ryan Watts holding down the boundary, but the addition of Holmes means there’s also plenty of competition at field corner.